Article confuses Texas government

First, I would like to admit that I am the chairman of the College Republicans at the University of Texas at Austin. I am slightly biased toward Republicans and more specifically, Texas Republicans. However, I would like to respond to the environmental record of my home state, not my governor (Bush’s poor environmental record, Nov. 18) from a purely factual standpoint.

Mr. Sieburg, have you ever studied Texas history or even visited Texas, for that matter? If you have, I apologize. However, it is clear in your article that you are oblivious to the way things work in the Lone Star State. I could write volumes on the differences between Texas and other states, but I will spare you and stick to the topic of the environment.

I have lived in the booming city of Austin for three years and have yet to hear the end of our air pollution problems. Any change that happens regarding the management of Austin is left entirely in the hands of the city government. The governor of Texas may live and work in Austin but he has absolutely no power or authority over what happens on the streets, in the air, or in City Hall of Austin or any Texas city. To be quite honest, the governor of Texas has the authority to veto legislature for 180 days in a two-year period, to appoint positions in the event of a vacancy, to grant clemency and to submit a biennial budget. The governor has no lawmaking authority aside from the veto. The governor has no power over state agencies. Based on powers granted, Governor George W. Bush has an exceptional record. I digress.

Yes, Texas is a leader in the petroleum industry. I have worked with the Texas Railroad Commission in some capacity or another for over a year. (The TRC, mainly associated with oil and gas regulation, involves little that actually concerns railroads.) I have spent time researching the commission, studying the politics of the commission, and working for two out of three commissioners. This summer, the Railroad Commission and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission teamed up in a well-plugging effort to clean up the upper Colorado River basin. The effort, which the governor supports, was created entirely through agencies with no room for executive authority.

No, Governor Bush did not increase environmental spending to solve our pollution problem. Governor Bush knows that throwing money at the problem fixes nothing. Besides, if word got out that we were paying more taxes to study pollution, a mob of angry Texans would storm the governor’s mansion demanding answers. Bottom line, most of the state’s pollution is produced in the cities. Each city is responsible for its own environment. Each city with a poor pollution record has specific guidelines, which were doled out by yet another state agency, independent of the state executive.

Finally, your statement about the Clean Air Act is very interesting. I am very curious to hear which officials are involved in this atrocious right-winged conspiracy against the air we breathe. I am also intrigued to learn of how Governor Bush has gained the power to yield his secret agenda. The 182 members who make up the state legislature are 182 free-thinking individuals. Any voluntary regulations expressly given to the industry were done because the industry best knows where the problems are. You’ve heard the expression, It takes a thief to catch one? Well, for better or worse, it takes the main producer of pollution to control it.

The University of Texas offers great summer courses on Texas government and Texas political history. Maybe you could scratch up some time to learn the real truth instead of the usual liberal rhetoric.

-The writer, a junior government major, is chairwoman of the College Republicans at the University of Texas.

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